A Letter from Father to Son: Charles Dickens to Henry Fielding Charles Dickens (Trinity Hall 1868); Gifts from a Father

Letter from Charles Dickens

When his sixth son was born on 16 January1849, Charles Dickens, who had made a habit of naming his sons after hisliterary heroes, wanted to call him Oliver, after Oliver Goldsmith. However, Dickens quickly reconsidered when he realised that his boy would be forever teased about Oliver Twist! Instead he chose to name him after Henry Fielding.

Henry Fielding Charles Dickens, to give him his full name, came up to Trinity Hall as a fresher in 1868. One of our treasures in the Old Library is a letter from Charles Dickens to his son, full of advice on how to conduct himself at Cambridge. It includes a generous allowance of £250 a year “handsome for all your wants” and the news that he has ordered “3 Doz: Sherry, 2 Doz: Port, and 3 Doz: light claret to be sent down to you.. and 6 bottles of Brandy”. Dickens, who was tremendously proud that his son was at Trinity Hall, signs off “Ever your affectionate father, Charles Dickens”.


Written by Dominique Ruhlmann, Director of Library Services, Trinity Hall